In caring for your skin, it’s important to consider all the factors that affect your skin’s health. In other words, it’s crucial that you take a holistic approach to skincare. This is the second installment in a series of Holistic Skincare posts, designed to give you the knowledge you need to master caring for your skin!
In case you missed the first installment of the series, which focused on sleep, you can catch up here.
Eating for Your Skin
Most people understand the importance of a nutritious diet in maintaining overall health, but did you know that how you eat can also affect your skin? The food choices you make each day are inextricably linked to the health of your skin, and the right diet can help protect your skin from premature skin aging, sun damage, and even the development of skin diseases like psoriasis and eczema.
Skin ages either intrinsically or extrinsically. Intrinsic skin aging refers to the natural aging that occurs in the human body over time; this is when your skin ages about as fast as the rest of the organs in your body. Extrinsic skin ageing refers to preventable, premature ageing due to environmental or behavioral factors, such as exposure to UV radiation, smoking, sleep deprivation, or poor nutrition.
One of the things you can do to prevent extrinsic skin ageing is to eat for your skin. Read on to find out how!
The Big Picture
When eating for your skin, remember to focus on the bigger picture. That is, unless you have known food allergies or sensitivities, focus on your eating patterns as a whole, rather than focusing on consuming or eliminating particular foods or nutrients. Here are some big-picture tips to keep in mind:
- Choose whole foods over highly processed foods. Research indicates a correlation between consumption of whole foods and skin health, and, in any case, consuming more whole foods helps prevent the development of comorbidities that may worsen skin health, such as poor gut health, obesity, or diabetes. Interestingly, evidence also suggests that consuming vitamins in their whole food form is much more effective than consuming them in isolation via supplements.
- Eat more fibre. (And drink more water.) You will naturally be eating more fibre the more whole foods you consume, since many whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains are naturally high in fibre. Consuming more fibre is important for maintaining a healthy gut microbiome, and a growing body of research suggests there is a strong connection between gut health and skin health. Drinking enough water is always important, but especially more so when you increase your fibre intake, so remember to drink enough water, too!
- Know your food triggers. People react to different foods in different ways, and what may work for some may not work for others. For instance, gluten has had a pretty bad rap recently, but is usually harmless to eat for people without celiac disease. Before getting on the bandwagon of “no X” diets, consider a trial of elimination. The way trial by elimination works is through two phases: elimination and reintroduction.If you suspect a certain food or group of foods is causing you skin issues, eliminate those foods from your diet for 2-3 weeks. If after several weeks your symptoms don’t improve, it may be wise to consult your doctor. However, if your skin issues do improve, congratulations! You’ve completed the first phase and can start the second phase, reintroduction. This is where you slowly reintroduce the foods to your diet one at a time, over 2-3 days, while watching for symptoms.It’s critical that you reintroduce each food individually, so you can accurately identify the trigger food. If the reintroduced food does not cause symptoms, you can assume it’s safe and move on to the next food. If the reintroduced food does cause symptoms, you’ve found a trigger food, and should eliminate it from your diet. Repeat the process until you find all your food triggers.
We’ve covered the big picture, but as the saying goes, the devil is in the details. Read on for a more detailed perspective on eating for your skin!
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